Flowers – Inducing Positive Emotion
Dec10

Flowers – Inducing Positive Emotion

Flowers – Inducing Positive Emotion An interesting psychological study, led by Rutgers University psychologist Jeanette Haviland-Jones, has been conducted in order to discover the effects flowers have on emotion and memory.   It was partly funded by the Society of American Florists, which makes sense, because this is important information about how our consumers operate.  Do people buy flowers just because it’s a safe, traditional gift or are there other forces at work that influence their decision? The Duchenne Smile: The researchers looked for this sign, also known as the true smile, as an indicator of significantly increased mood.  The Duchenne smile is the one that not only scrunches up the cheeks but also the eyes.  It’s a full face smile and a “reliable indicator of happiness”. The Study was broken down into 3 main experiments: The first experiment was designed to test the short and long term mood shifts of women that were given a variety of gifts.  Some women were given large decorative candles, some were given fruit and sweets baskets while others were given mixed bouquets of roses, lilies and stocks.  The women that received the flowers all displayed the duchenne smile and had a long term increase in positive mood.  The other women all produced smiles with varying results and overall the duchenne smile was much less frequent with the other gifts.  Also interesting, is that the flower receivers were more...

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Less is more – the use of empty space
Nov10

Less is more – the use of empty space

It is common, in the flower industry, for customers to feel that bigger is better.  That the number of flowers in the arrangement should be proportionate to the number of dollars spent. Would the average customer be willing to spend the same amount of money on less flowers and more design?  Would they be willing to pay for empty space? The famous 20th century architect and designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, made the aphorism “Less is more” very popular and demonstrated this design theory through his very minimalist approach.  His emphasis was on simplicity of form and use of empty space. If we look to Japan, and the art form called Ikebana, we can see similar design ideals applied to floral arrangements.  Early records of Ikebana go back to the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to the Japanese.  The flowers were presented as an offering in honor of Buddha.  From that point onward the Japanese introduced containers and furthered the art until Masters of the form arose and Ikebana schools were opened.  Over time the styles evolved and when Japan opened to the rest of the world the art form spread and grew. “What distinguishes IKEBANA from other approaches such as “flower arrangement” is its asymmetrical form and the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition. A sense of harmony among the materials, the container, and the setting is also crucial.” (Ikebana International,...

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Ladies: We are Secret Sadistic Devils!
Oct15

Ladies: We are Secret Sadistic Devils!

The soothing relaxing aroma of perfumed oils and candles, the smooth and tranquil tones from the background music, the clean fresh sheets on a very comfortable bed, lying back buck naked with a towel around the nakedness waiting for the pain to start! Nope, this is not a scene from 50 Shades of Grey – it’s the monthly grooming session at the expensive Spa! Although – the torture involved is probably close if not more sadistic than a scene with Christian Grey! The lovely soft-spoken lady (who views your girly parts with more scrutiny than your Gynaecologist) standing at the bottom of the bed readying the torture material to rid you of any unsightly excess hair! As a modern-day woman, there are many things we do on a regular basis to make ourselves presentable to the outside world. The daily rituals of painting our faces, taming our hair and then the meticulous selection and re-selection of our clothes. The weekly dues of facials, manicure’s and pedicure’s. And then there is the monthly grooming practice that only you and whomever has the privilege of seeing your butt (pun intended) naked self will get to admire!   I asked a number of ladies on why they put themselves through all of this, and whether it was for the benefit of being attractive or desirable to the mate they are trying to attract? Believe it or not, the belief of beautifying ourselves for the reasons of attraction is a...

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Rock Solid Guns & Buns of Steel – The Perfect Man?
Sep29

Rock Solid Guns & Buns of Steel – The Perfect Man?

  Broad solid shoulders, angry sweat laden faces, six/eight packs (apparently they do exist!), thick sculptured thighs and of course the buns of steel! Yes Ladies – it’s the Rugby World Cup! The men in our lives are watching the games religiously for the pure adrenaline rush, National pride and in the back of their minds thinking they are as tough and mean as the men on the pitch. As much as the ladies like to support their favourite team, National pride and in general, just enjoy watching the sport – there is always the hot-blooded female in us that appreciates all that is beautiful in the male form disguised as the rugged Rugby player. As with all social drunken evenings between a group of good friends, inappropriate conversation is the order of the evening; the subject of what type of “Man” they were in terms of what they found as most attractive “physically” in a woman! (Hey, it was a drunken evening – all sexist remarks go straight out of the window!) Answers ranged from the typical breasts, legs, buttocks to colour of hair or colour of eyes! This had the ladies reciprocating back on what is “hot” and what is “not” for the male form! Yes, I believe we were more on the road to blottoed than just merely drunk!   A few of my female friends are still looking for their perfect “other-half” with a number of them using the latest in social media dating sites. We are mostly led to believe that it’s mostly...

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Wives – The Modern Day Super Heroes
Sep17

Wives – The Modern Day Super Heroes

Staring at a sink full of dishes and the bomb site that is my kitchen, I do what I always do; I roll my shirt sleeves up and start the cleaning process. Alas, this is my cliché married life. My husband is a good cook, but every time he cooks, the kitchen is a scene from a horror movie! He has tried washing up in the past, but I think he intentionally does it badly so that I don’t ask him to do it regularly! I put up with his feet up on the coffee table when he is watching TV; dirty clothes on the bathroom or bedroom floor; used mugs, plates, cutlery either haphazardly left around the tables, desks, and/or kitchen (but not sink!); even his annoying habit of emptying his pockets of keys, phone, lint, receipts, coins (why do men always just spend notes and leave the coins? What do they expect we’ll do with the jars and jars of change?) on the bedside table every evening instead of the designated “bowl” I have set aside for all his crap! Despite all of the annoying little things (that automatically become big things during the hormonal week!), he is the man who I vowed to love for better or for worse and that I am blessed to have him in my life. The jobs of today’s wives are not in any wedding rule books. Wives are now creatures that work hard, play hard and love hard!  We manage the home, the finances, the kids, the extended family, the friends, the extended friends AND the whinging husband! It’s a never-ending job,...

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Are You Ever Too Old to Have a Teddy Bear?
Sep07

Are You Ever Too Old to Have a Teddy Bear?

      I went through an era in my life that I loved and thought every stuffed toy was the biz! Except for Chucky! He was the bane of some of my most frightening childhood nightmares! A toy that could talk, wields a knife and has scary eyes – I could not look at any toy for months in fear that they would come to life! Strangely, not unlike the new star of the Teddy Bear world, “TED”, though instead of a knife, this “cute” looking teddy bear has a foul mouth and spouts sexual innuendoes at everything he sees. For some reason I was never a fan of the plastic dolls (Barbies & Cindys). Even at a young age I thought those types of toys were a little too girly for me, but a lot of my girlfriends would go out of their way to play with their Barbies and Kens and make happy families for them.   My interest started at Cabbage Patch Dolls. When they first came out on to the market they were cute (real definition – UGLY but INTERESTING). It was like looking at a really ugly baby – I can almost hear the shocked gasp of a million Mom’s saying “There is no such thing as an ugly baby”!  These little darlings had huge round heads, round stunned eyes, snubby noses and cheeks so rounded it looked like a bag of Marshmallows was stuffed in there.    My next phase with stuffed toys came later in life. I started to make up for it by winning stuffed toys from fairs and those arcade point-and-grab machines. I...

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The Gardens of Villa Éphrussi de Rothschild
Aug31

The Gardens of Villa Éphrussi de Rothschild

  The Gardens of Villa Éphrussi de Rothschild, France The gardens are in a Venetian style. They are seven gardens on the estate. They were crafted between 1905 and 1912, as Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild had the villa built. The central French style garden is surrounded those of Spanish, Japanese and Florentine design, plus an olive garden, one for exotic plants and a stone garden. sadlkfjslkdjfsdlkfjsaldfkjsdlkfj ref: Villa Éphrussi, Top 10 Gardens | National...

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Modern Day Parents – Total Respect!
Aug28

Modern Day Parents – Total Respect!

  Stale milk smell…puffy, red, bloodshot eyes… pallid skin the colour of a grey dawn – Yep – My friend is now a new Mummy! Despite the vision in front of me looking as though she would keel over from exhaustion, there was a glint in her eyes and her twist in her smile that said “This was all worth it!” Her husband,  dummy clenched in his mouth, running between kitchen and bathroom, simultaneously (allegedly!) working on heating up a bottle of milk whilst running a bath for  baby – shattered, but again the new “Daddy” exuded an aura of “ I wouldn’t change a thing”.  This, my dear readers is the start of “Parenthood”.   Let me just point out that I have yet to be “blessed” with the bliss of parenthood. I see children growing up way too fast these days! They make you laugh; they make you cry; they even make you want to hide in a cupboard and scream “What have I done to deserve this?”. There are many titles for these new Childhood developments: “Terrible Twos”, “Threenagers”, “F*#king Fours”, and the list goes on till they hit “The Rebellious Teenage Years” and the “Mooching Twenties”! But do you care?   Being a Parent is a fun, scary, emotional roller coaster of a ride, that no-one can predict.  Society, as a whole, has moved on from when I was a child. No longer is it accepted to threaten the Children to behave with a wooden spoon or a ruler. It’s now all about understanding...

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My woes of giving a perfect gift to my Dad!
Aug26

My woes of giving a perfect gift to my Dad!

It’s Father’s Day this coming 6th September and I am at a complete loss as to what gift to get my Dad! It’s the same every year! Only with Parents do you end up getting three gifts a year! Birthday, Mother’s/Father’s Day and Christmas!  Mums are easy – anything goes! Flowers, Perfume, Clothes, Food, Spa treatment, etcetera. The list is endless for Mothers! When I was younger, the classic Father’s Day gifts were Socks & Jocks, T-Shirts, Belts, Ties or Boxer Shorts. On the odd occasion whereby his Electric Razor was broken, (and that I’d saved enough from my pocket-money and scrounged the rest from my other sisters to make this a joint gift!) we’d get him something useful! There was no point in even wrapping the gifts as they were so obvious! Now that I am all grown up and working for a living, and my Dad having recently retired, I thought “This is my time to shine! This is when I can be inventive with my gifts!”. Little did I know that this was an even bigger task than I thought! Since retirement, my Dad has had very few hobbies. He likes to walk/go hiking, cooking and watch TV (mostly sport), sometimes read the odd classic book; but that’s about it! I tried to buy him hiking boots – he didn’t like the way they fitted (they’re still in a box under the staircase – because he is STILL a typical man and does not go back to shops to RETURN things! EVER!). I tried to buy him cookbooks – he said he likes to...

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A wine a day keeps the whining away
Aug21

A wine a day keeps the whining away

I had a bad (understatement of the year!) day; everything that could go wrong went wrong! Let me set the scene for you: When you set your alarm for work to wake you up at 5:00am, you wake up at 6am and start screaming at your phone, then you realise that the alarm was set for 5:00PM instead of AM! You run for the morning commute and your heel breaks off, you arrive just in time to the office building and because you’re waiting for the lift – you’re ten minutes late, you’re making your morning cup of coffee and your mug slips and crashes on the floor! Seriously – the day carried on in that way! We’ve all been there! My experience says that after a day like that – your evening can only get better! Do you plan an evening in with your loved one and just cuddle up and watch TV? Arrange to meet friends and have an evening of dinner and conversation (albeit you will be reiterating most of your terrible day verbatim to dampen their evenings!) or spend the evening pampering yourself (whereby you’ll mull over the terrible day and wonder how you could have done it differently!).   On evenings like this, I tend to find myself with a glass of wine venting my woes to anyone who will listen (exit loved ones as they have heard it time and time again!). Seriously – pets are fantastic listeners! My cat “Bubbles” is a great conversationalist – she lets me vent and offers her meows as answers of her understanding that I am not...

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The Trials and Tribulations of Dating
Aug17

The Trials and Tribulations of Dating

Dating is always seen as one of the most exciting things in the world. Hollywood movies set the romantic scenes with flowing water fountains, angelic white doves and a star street performer serenading Frank Sinatra or Norah Jones songs faintly in the background.   Let’s just say reality is not quite the same picture! Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been on “that” date … Though my story was not quite as romantic! The water fountain in my story was always a brown, smelly puddle gargling on its own water; the doves (actually pigeons) that decided to share its delightful white wet mess on me or my date; and the street performer was likely an overly enthusiastic elderly gentleman playing the bagpipes (I will be generous to say that this was probably a new hobby as the “noise” was atrocious!). Welcome to reality!   I like dating- I am just not very good at it. Maybe I am just trying too hard. One time, I met this incredibly handsome Swiss guy on a night out, who STILL called me a few days later after I introduced him to my “intoxicated white wine and tequila shots” self. So, on our first “date”, I decided to show him the “I can be a wholesome girl” persona and invited him back to my house for a four-course meal. I consider myself a pretty good cook and to make him feel less homesick I chose to make him a Swiss themed meal. The Swiss like cheese, right? So I went all out and made this lovely composition of...

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Chinese Valentines Day – the Original Lovers Day!
Aug14

Chinese Valentines Day – the Original Lovers Day!

The Chinese invented Gunpowder. The Chinese invented Paper. The Chinese even invented Alcohol (or at least the fermentation part!). And just to shock you further – the Chinese invented VALENTINE’s Day! Well at least a day whereby “Love” and “Romance” is the order of the day. This is actually a serious holiday – a Government Public Holiday is given to celebrate “Love”! First, the history/educational part: Chinese Valentines’ Day is actually known as the Qixi festival  and happens to fall on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar year (on a regular calendar – it means the day actually falls on a different date every year around August). It’s about a love story between a celestial spirit and a mere mortal; Folks at Disney would have a field day turning the story into their next fairy tale cartoon! Here’s a quick video to give you an incite to Chinese Valentine’s Day! Next up, the tradition part: Young girls making wishes and offerings to deities to grant them the dream of meeting their Prince Charming. Burning paper lanterns and sending off paper boats down rivers with their thoughts and wishes written inside them. Apart from warning of the risk of setting trees, buildings and flammable items on fire – We’ll keep the rest of this section short, as it’s all too doe-eyed and fantasy based. Following on, the modern part: The modern day lass prefers more positive action from interested males, lovers and...

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My Affair with the 8th Deadliest Sin!
Aug10

My Affair with the 8th Deadliest Sin!

  Chocolate should be named as the 8th deadly sin! This decadent piece of food is able to launch all the rest of the 7 deadly sins! I remember times in my life I would have hoarded a box of Godiva truffles for my own consumption and stared with envy when a friend was spooning a chocolate dessert in her mouth! There are many studies and health risk pamphlets that list all the do’s and don’ts for Chocolate, but I’m not writing about that. All I know is that when I’m out with friends and loved ones for a fancy meal – I’d like to finish the experience digging into a Chocolate lava cake that oozes a rich, creamy chocolate fountain when I put a spoon through it. When I’m feeling a little down, time of the month, crappy day at work, or in one of those moods of “no one understands me!”, I want to bite into a huge bar of Dairy Milk Chocolate (even better with the little nuts in it!) and pretty much mutter to myself that my Chocolate bar understands how I feel!    Do not get me wrong – men enjoy Chocolate too! But I noticed a pattern that men EAT chocolate like it’s a food source, similar to needing his meat and two veg on his plate every evening. It is sustenance food, an energy source. When it comes to Chocolate, Men eat to live, Women live to eat!    For women, Chocolate is an indulgence or in modern day language it is better known as “Food Porn”.   I asked a few girlfriends who were around in the...

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Happy Mother’s Day! Everyday!
Aug07

Happy Mother’s Day! Everyday!

I love my Mom, really I do! But oh – how she can test my patience! OH MY GOODNESS, OH MY GOODNESS, OH MY GOODNESS! The indescribable rage I have in my head right now is almost too much for me to bear. The only thing I want to do is to storm out of the house, slam the door behind me, walk up an enormous hill, and never come back to my crazy household. Seriously, I bet there are millions of young people out there who are in exactly the same position as me; when you and your Mom are having the worst fight ever, nobody is willing to back down, and all you want to do is to storm out of the front door tears streaming down your face, vowing never to come back home. On most occasions, this tantrum is shared, word for word with my best friend, as we basically experience the same situation at least a few times a month. But her situation is usually about studies, whereas mine… well, mine was actually about cookies… I mean, what’s wrong with just having a little mess in my bedroom? It’s my bedroom! I demand the right to make it look as if a clothes bomb has gone off amid the organised chaos, right? Every now and then I’ve got to add some personality to my space; after all, I am an artist and I am supposed to be rebellious and insane (sometimes!). Which is why, I like to play around with food sometimes to explore my creativity and originality… I know…it’s deep stuff, and “Drama Queen” is not my nickname! Looking...

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Mother’s Day in Thailand
Aug05

Mother’s Day in Thailand

  The 12 of August is the birthday of Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit of Thailand. In honour of the Queen, this day is also recognised as National Mother’s Day. Queen Sirikit’s story is not one exclusively of privilege. It is a story of romance, self-discipline, courage, motherhood, devotion and, above all, support for her husband and service to the people of Thailand. Care and compassion is the central focus of Queen Sirikit’s life. The Thai people have a deep reverence for their monarchy, as well as mothers, so this is a very important day of celebration for Thai people both at home and worldwide. Thailand enjoys a rich history and culture. Although sometimes engaged in conflicts with neighbouring rulers, over centuries Thailand’s monarchy helped the nation maintain its political autonomy. Thailand developed a complex, beautiful society with many distinctive traditions; today over 67 million people reside in Thailand. Motherhood remains an important value in Thai culture, as does respect for the beauty and importance of the natural world. Recently, Thailand gained international media attention due to the efforts of Sangduen “Lek” Chailert. Born in a small village in rural northern Thailand, as a child this remarkable Thai woman grew to respect and appreciate the loveliness of the countryside and its plants and animal life. Her family cared for an elephant, and she developed a...

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